The U.S. economy continued to sputter along in February with no signs of any dramatic change, The Conference Board reported today. The U.S. leading index, a key barometer of future economic conditions, dropped 0.5 percent last month to 137.3, as rising jobless claims and weakening consumer expectations and vendor performance (supplier deliveries) were mainly responsible for February's decline. Based on revised data, January's slight increase was revised down to a small decline as new data became available for the manufacturers' new orders components for that month. From August to February, the leading index rose 0.2 percent (a 0.4 percent annual rate). The leading index has been flat to declining in nine of the last 12 months. In addition, the weaknesses among the leading indicators have been slightly more widespread than strengths in recent months, as just four of the 10 indicators increased in February. Following the recent declines, the leading index is now 0.9 percent below its mos...
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